Granby home destroyed in blaze that draws six area fire departments

  • Fire crews battle a major blaze in Granby. STAFF PHOTO / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Five towns responded to a fire on Harris Street in Granby. Smoke can be seen on the top of the hill where the fire was. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Tom Benson, who helped firefighters pump water from the pond on his and his wife’s property to help douse the fire that destroyed a neighbors home, talks about the fire Thursday afternoon on Harris Mountain Road in Granby. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The driveway of a house fire where Five towns responded on Harris Street in Granby. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carol Benson talks about the fire on Harris Street in Granby. The Bensons assisted the fire fighters to pump water from the pond on their property used to help put the fire out which destroyed a neighbors home. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Five towns responded to a fire on Harris Street in Granby. Smoke can be seen on the top of the hill where the fire was. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Firefighters gather near the scene of a house fire on Harris Mountain Road in Granby, Thursday afternoon. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Five towns responded to a fire on Harris Street in Granby. Smoke can be seen on the top of the hill where the fire was. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

Published: 4/13/2017 5:36:04 PM

GRANBY — A major blaze that destroyed a home Thursday afternoon prompted a response from six area fire departments.

Crews from Amherst, Belchertown, Granby, Ludlow, South Hadley and Westover Air Reserve Base responded to the conflagration at 84 Harris Mountain Road. Although the home, situated well off the road, was not visible, smoke clearly could be seen billowing above the treeline.

“This was a big fire,” Granby Fire Chief John Mitchell said.

The residents and their pets were away from the home when the fire was called in around 1 p.m., officials said. Mitchell declined to identify the residents, though he said they had been informed of the fire.

According to property records, the home is owned by Daniel and Elizabeth Saunders.

Emergency responders arrived after the blaze was spotted by someone manning one of the area’s fire towers. Initially, Mitchell said, there were concerns that the fire could spread to the surrounding woods.

“As a result of the proximity of the home to the woodline and mountain behind us, we asked DCR to come out and assess the situation for us,” he said, referring to the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Firefighters were still on scene at 7 p.m. and the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Another essential question that firefighters in rural communities have to answer when they arrive at a fire is where to draw water from, Mitchell said.

Crews show up with enough water to get efforts started, but must eventually tap into another source to keep the fight going.

In this case, that source was a pond on neighbors Tom and Carol Benson’s property just down the road.

Carol Benson said she was at home when she heard sirens, which is unusual given that her house is some 700 feet off the road.

“I heard the truck stop, and then I heard crackling from the house,” she said. She immediately called her husband, who hurried home from work.

Tom Benson, a former volunteer firefighter himself, arrived soon after and helped firefighters begin pumping water from the family’s pond.

“I did it for a long time, so it was just a matter of lending a helping hand,” he said.

A fire truck was parked next to the pond, drafting water through thick yellow hoses up the Bensons’ driveway to the road.

“You’ve got to hand it to all those guys,” Tom Benson said of all the firefighters who rushed to the scene. “Volunteer fire departments are really the core of the community.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.




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